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Beau Smith: “I’m not old, I’m just drawn that way.”

by beau Smith

Every now and then, it sinks in. and when it does, I still find it all so very hard to believe.

I’ve been in the comic book service for twenty-six years.

I’m fulfilling a dream I’ve had considering that 1963, when on the school playground I told my teacher that I wanted to write comic books when I grew up. pretty lofty goal for a kid from a small town in West Virginia. My teacher told me I must think of another line of work.

Much like in class, I didn’t listen to her.

The other night, I was sitting here at my desk writing the second issue of my upcoming Dark horse comic book, 200 people TO KILL. I was looking up reference and going through artwork, when it hit me: I’m writing comic books! (Well, I’m still getting away with it.)

There are a lot of milestones that I can use to retrace my steps into this business. Of course, there are the hundreds of comic books that I’ve written. I can always look through and re-read them, remembering, for the most part, where I was and what I was doing when I wrote them. It’s always pretty pleasurable to come up with a memory that hasn’t been checked out in a while. It’ll give me a chance to call up an artist or editor I worked with on that book and catch up.

Beau Smith, Stan Lee Stalker 1967.

The part that really amazes me is when I dig back to when I was a kid and recall reading certain issues by creators that I admire, and then think that, lots of years later, I would either meet them, becomes friends with, or even work with them. growing up reading nearly every marvel Comic of the 1960s, mostly written by San Lee, it astounds me to think that I am the same person that, as a kid, sent Stan Lee a letter with my school photo and he wrote me back within two weeks thanking me for my letter and the “goofy” photo. I remember my mommy wanted to know what he indicated calling her son’s photo goofy. but me, I was thrilled that Stan took the time to even look at my picture.

Many years later, when I was in the service as a writer and VP of marketing, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Stan at Pittsburgh con where we were both guests. even though I was then a full grown adult, there was a large part of me that was still that little kid that sent the photo. I looked across the table and found it mindboggling that I was actually having lunch with Stan Lee. It was a great time with lots of laughs and some very interesting stories of comics, both new and old. I couldn’t resist telling Stan about not only sending him the photo, but also calling the marvel offices on my 10th birthday and trying to speak to him on the phone. I got as far as Flo Steinberg, and that was also a thrill. She was incredibly great to me that day and even sent me some stuff in the mail. Stan told me that kinda stuff happened all the time back then when marvel was on the rise. He also told a few stories about high school and college kids in new York City that would drop in the offices and try and see Stan and all the Bullpen guys. It was so great to hear these stories from Stan directly.

Memories that I will always enjoy.

Along with Stan, there are lots of other great creators that I grew up admiring that I got to know as my own occupation in comics grew; Ross Andru, Joe Kubert, Murray Boltinoff, Don Heck, will Eisner, Dick Ayers, Sergio Aragones, Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Roy Thomas, Jack Kirby, Sam Glanzman, and so lots of more. As I was breaking into comics, I also got to become friends with creators of my own generation that have given me a great core group of peers as well as life long friends; folks like Chuck Dixon, Ted Adams, Tim Truman, Eduardo Barreto, Graham Nolan, Flint Henry, Gary Kwapisz, Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert, Todd McFarlane, John K. Snyder, Tom Lyle, Tim Harkins, mark Schultz, Scot Eaton, Neil Gaiman, mark Waid, and many, lots of more.

Once I began working for Todd McFarlane and image Comics, I was lucky to connect with a whole new generation of creators a little younger than me. It really has rounded my occupation out with friends and influences from age groups of all generations. I’m very stoked these days to be working with so lots of creators that are young enough to be my sons and daughters (With my lurid lifestyle, they may BE my sons & daughters for all I know). the best part about working with a far younger generation is that, once again, I can learn even a lot more about a creative service that I still love as much as I did as a kid.

If you’re a young designer just starting out in comics, please know that anything can happen. Your childhood dreams can come true as well. Personally, I will always treasure the fact that I’ve had lunch and dinners with Stan Lee, had Jack Kirby personally show me around and share lunch with me at my very first Chicago Con, became close friends withDon Heck and Sam Glanzman, who has come to my house on a lot more than a few occasions. With today’s technology and avenues of publishing, anything can happen. It doesn’t matter if you live in Bear Jaw, Alaska or Los Angeles, you can create comics.

Who knows, one day you may find yourself at lunch with me… and wondering to yourself, “Why is this old fart trying to stick me with the tab?”

Comic Books….Read ‘em, get ‘em, live ‘em.

Your amigo,

Beau Smith

The flying Fist Ranch

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